The sunny sunflower is a member of the helianthus genus of flowers; helio meaning sun and anthius meaning flower. Makes sense, right!
The sunflower originated in North America and has nearly 70 species. But its popularity has not remained within the borders of the states. More than half of the sunflowers produced in the world today are grown in Russia.
Sunflowers are annuals and come in traditional sunny yellow, burnt orange, red, dark red-brown and combinations of any or all of these. A new species of perennial sunflowers has recently been developed for commercial growers, as well.
Traditional sunflowers grow up to 10 to 12 feet tall with the flowers being 12-14 inches in diameter. Other varieties range from 2-3 feet tall and up with flowers being 4 to 10 inches in diameter.
WHERE DO THEY COME FROM
Sunflowers are grown by sowing seeds in the ground in mid spring (once the soil is warm enough). They can be started indoors earlier or for those who wish to plant seedlings rather than seeds. Seeds should be planted in moist soil a couple of inches deep. You can purchase sunflower seeds for planting readily for mere pennies per seed.
The seeds for the sunflowers are gathered from the densely-packed seed heads of the sunflower when the flower has died and the seeds are dry and fall easily from their home which somewhat resembles a honeycomb.
WHAT A SUNFLOWER NEEDS
Sunflowers aren’t nearly as particular about their soil as they are about their water supply. Because the roots of a sunflower run deep, sunflowers need lots of water. BUT…watering should be done consistently. Overwatering just days prior to or after blooming begins greatly reduces the blooming capability and the shape of the sunflower.
Sunflowers also need plenty of room to grow. Planting them too closely together reduces the size of the flower.
MORE THAN JUST PRETTY
The sunflower has been gracing gardens for years, but the sunflower is much more than just a pretty face. Sunflower seeds are a popular snack with just about anyone. You can also find sunflower seeds at most salad bars and sunflower oil is used in cooking.
But let’s face it…sunflowers are pretty and make excellent additions to dried and fresh flower arrangements if for no other reason that they are just so darn cute.